- - Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security issued a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin. And in true Biden administration fashion, it focused on what it views as threats within our borders, not outside of them. Most alarming is that the administration considers those supporting secure U.S. borders to be domestic terrorists.

The bulletin cautioned, “Some domestic violent extremists have expressed grievances related to their perception that the U.S. government is unwilling or unable to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and have called for violence to stem the flow of undocumented migrants to the United States. We assess that there is increased risk of domestic violent extremists using changes in border security-related policies and/or enforcement mechanisms to justify violence against individuals, such as minorities and law enforcement officials involved in the enforcement of border security.”

This lays the groundwork for broad monitoring of just about any organization (including my own, the Federation for American Immigration Reform) and individuals expressing disapproval of the Biden administration’s sweeping nullification of virtually all border and interior immigration enforcement laws. Moreover, given DHS’ recent attempt to establish a government-run “disinformation” bureau, the bulletin opens the door to censorship of even political rhetoric the department deems to be false under the rubric that such rhetoric might inspire violence by others.

Concerns about domestic terrorism are not displaced. But using threats of domestic terrorism for political purposes — to single out in order to discredit and silence viewpoints that the administration in power opposes — is as dangerous as any politically driven mad man with a gun. Labeling some political speech — such as fierce opposition to the Biden administration’s immigration policies, or angry parents confronting school boards over the teaching of critical race theory —  as terror threats, and not others displaying vehement opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade amounts to weaponizing the executive branch authority.

The focus by DHS on those who hold the “perception that the U.S. government is unwilling or unable to secure” our borders (a “perception” that might be reinforced by nearly a quarter of a million people pouring across each month and Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ memoranda explicitly instructing DHS employees not to enforce most laws) is an outgrowth of a concerted effort to tie opponents of the Biden administration’s immigration policies to violent extremism. Most notably, there has been an effort to link to the actions of Peyton Gendron, the terrorist and self-avowed racist who slaughtered 10 African Americans in Buffalo last month, to legitimate criticism of mass immigration.

Mr. Gendron’s hateful attack is said to have been inspired by his belief in the “great replacement theory,” which the administration, leftist politicians and many in the media have labeled as a conspiracy theory cooked up by the Republican Party and advocates for more limited immigration. Except that the great replacement as an argument against unchecked immigration has never been posited by mainstream immigration enforcement advocates. Mass immigration, with the goal of remaking the electorate was, and remains, a strategy of those on the left.

A 2013 report by the Center for American Progress, a think tank that has maintained a revolving door with the Obama and Biden White Houses, argued that large-scale immigration is essential to the fortunes of the Democratic Party. “Supporting real immigration reform that contains a pathway to citizenship for our nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants is the only way to maintain electoral strength in the future,” asserted CAP. Earlier, political analysts John Judis and Ruy Teixeira described immigration as a cornerstone of The Emerging Democratic Majority, predicting that it would lead to a political realignment as “White America is supplanted by multiracial, multiethnic America.” There have been many others, all arguing that the Democrats’ path to political success rests on using immigration to dilute the power of Republican-leaning white voters.

Those predictions are not exactly panning out — Hispanic voters are bailing on the Democratic Party in record numbers, not the least of which is their alarm over President Biden’s reckless immigration policies. Nevertheless, the latest DHS bulletin has placed immigration enforcement advocates in the administration’s crosshairs for alleged dangers posed by rhetoric that has never been a part of a decadeslong case for reduced immigration and tighter enforcement.

Ironically, the morning after DHS singled out immigration enforcement advocates as posing a risk of domestic terrorism, police in Montgomery County, Maryland, arrested a suspected domestic terrorist. Nicholas Roske has reportedly admitted that he intended to murder Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, in his home, because he was angry about a potential Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

Whatever may have inspired the California man to travel all the way across the country to inflict grievous harm on a Supreme Court justice and his family should, in no way, be used to silence legitimate advocacy on abortion policy — both those who support abortion and those who oppose it. Nor should the broad swath of the population who may share the political views of the suspect be tarred by his actions or be subject to undue government scrutiny.

We can be certain that advocates for abortion will not be preemptively viewed as domestic terrorists because of Mr. Roske’s actions, but for the wrong reasons — namely, that their views are shared by the Biden administration and mainstream media. Rather, absent clear and compelling evidence that they are likely to engage in violence, they should count on the protection of the First Amendment, not government scrutiny.

The same presumptions must hold true for advocates of policies the administration opposes. Americans who view the Biden border crisis with alarm, or who express their displeasure with what their children are being taught in schools, should not have suspicion cast upon them based on the actions of a few violent extremists. The only threat they pose is to the policies of the people in power, which is precisely what our Constitution guarantees.

• Dan Stein is president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

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